Bethesda, county make waterline plans

ST. CLAIRSVILLE Bethesda village officials met with Belmont County Water and Wastewater Director Mark Esposito Tuesday at the commissioners’ office to coordinate their needs and efforts and move forward in completing some necessary water system upgrades.

After comparing their relative requirements, Bethesda officials agreed to the complete the work of installing a 16-inch line along Route 9 through town if the county purchases the materials. An engineer’s analysis and cost estimate will be established.

Esposito will look at the entire project cost to determine if Bethesda will have debt service on the line. Other private parties will also be invited to invest.

Bethesda is in the process of upgrading its water system, which dates from 1936 and is insufficient for fire protection and has suffered numerous breaks. The village is applying through the EPA to replace 90 percent of the line and re-meter it.

The planning has been ongoing since 2009. The proposed project includes a 16-inch line through town and a 12-inch line through the south of town. This could also allow further growth in the county.

Bethesda council members note that a grant for $3.9 million has been approved and a contract signed, but the timeline calls for submission by Sept. 30. The work must be completed in 270 days.

However, the low-pressure pipe on Route 9 which supplies water to the rest of the county must also be upgraded and improved.

Bethesda Mayor Martin Lucas noted ongoing issues with the transmission line and pump station. The village water tank is in poor condition and has drained repeatedly due to water breaks.

Esposito said an engineer was hired in 2011 to study the transmission line replacement and pump station relocation and provide a cost estimate of $2.9 million to supply water to Bethesda and additional water to St. Clairsville. An additional $1.1 million was estimated to extend the 16-in line to the Bethesda corporation area so they can connect.

Meanwhile, Rice Energy had also inquired about purchasing two million gallons of water daily from the county in that area along with Bethesda’s 120,000 gallons daily plus fireflow. The county had looked into the possibility of increasing pipe size and adding pumps.

“It’s a huge project. We’re looking at a $12 million project,” Esposito said, adding that issues such as elevation complicate the project. “We basically had to start from scratch and re-design a whole new waterline.”

More the project has escalated. Last week the engineer informed Esposito that the 24-inch line must be extended close to 10 miles from Route 9 and the pump station motors must be 300 horsepower instead of 100.

“With the size of the pumps and the size of the waterline, this is going to be a huge project,” said Esposito.

Among other scenarios, Rice Energy had raised to possibility of taking on the project as a private line, but Esposito is opposed to the plan, noting that scenario does no help Bethesda or the county. Rice Energy has offered to make extensive improvements to the system and Esposito said he county is attempting to design it to meet the company’s specifications.

He added that the current capability to supply Bethesda is complicated by the contract with St. Clairsville. The county is contracted to provide the city with up to 300,000 gallons per day. The city normally purchases 100,000 gallons per months, but that amount may increase during incidents of draughts and contamination. Esposito has advised Bethesda to retain its agreement with Barnesville as a backup supplier.

“All that water comes from the same pipe, the same pump station, which is Route 9,” he said.

Afterward, Lucas said the meeting evidenced definite progress in the project.

“I feel that today’s meeting was very productive,” said Lucas. “It’s been the most productive meeting we’ve had so far.”

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